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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Interview at ASif

As the World Science Fiction Convention, Aussiecon 4, approaches, Australian Specfic in focus (ASif) is conducting a series of interviews with writers, editors, publishers, and so on involved in the local science fiction community. Aussiecon 4 will be held in Melbourne in September, and I'm looking forward to it.

The various interviews are initially appearing across a number of blogs, but will eventually be consolidated on the ASif site. Jenny will be doing one of these interviews today, and others so far include Alison Goodman (hey, Al, you were a bit laconic!), Damien Broderick, Paul Collins ... and many others whom I'm glad to count as friends (I can't list them all, so browse for yourself via the ASif site). This is about the closest thing to my tribe (to borrow a line from the Kim Wilkins interview).

I'll link to the consolidated set of interviews when it's available. My own interview appears here, on Kathryn Linge's LiveJournal page.


Did you specifically approach science fiction (as compared to mainstream) writers when putting together the collection [i.e. 50 Voices of Disbelief]? What did you aim to achieve with the book?

To take the second question first, Udo and I are outspoken critics of organised religion, and not even big fans of the less organised kinds. We're painfully conscious that religion is not only persisting but often exercising serious influence on the political decision-making process. Worse, at least from my viewpoint, many religious organisations, leaders, and thinkers defend the right of legislators to enact laws that enforce specifically religious moralities. While these leaders, etc., may say they defend a separation of church and state, I often have to laugh at this. Many of them interpret "separation of church and state" as a requirement that the state refrain from interfering with the organisation and operations of the religious sects — but that the latter remain free to lobby the state to impose a Christian (or Islamic, or whatever) moral agenda, even on non-believers. As long as we have religious leaders, and indeed legislators, who think this way, it's natural, inevitable, and entirely desirable that non-believers question just what intellectual and moral authority the religious organisations, leaders, holy books, etc., actually have. Where do they get this authority that they claim? If it's from a god, how does anyone know what this god really thinks or whether it even exists? It's worth scrutinising the amazing claims of religion from every angle — philosophical, historical, psychological, or whatever.

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